After a three-year absence from the Billboard charts, Maroon 5 finally dropped their sixth studio album, “Red Pill Blues,” Nov. 3. The 15-track album is littered with features from rappers such as Kendrick Lamar, Future, A$AP Rocky and rising singer/songwriter Julia Michaels.
“Red Pill Blues” is both a step away from Maroon 5’s older discography and a continuation of the style of music the band’s been churning out for more than 15 years. There are radio hits featuring a hot rapper, such as the album’s first radio single “Don’t Wanna Know” (released October 2016) with Kendrick Lamar, which echoes previous hits such as “Payphone,” which was released in 2012 and features Wiz Khalifa. Bizarrely, “Don’t Wanna Know” is only available on the Deluxe Edition of “Red Pill Blues.”
In addition to pop hits, there are drawn-out jam sessions on the album, such as the 11-minute-long “Closure” which ends the album.
Even though lead singer Adam Levine has said this is the group’s “R&B album,” “Red Pill Blues” falls back into Maroon 5’s worst qualities, with Levine crooning over boring pop beats; most of the tracks are forgotten minutes after hearing them. Even more obvious is the fact that Maroon 5 is hunting for relevance after a three-year absence and the delayed release of “Red Pill Blues.”
All the big name collaborations don’t make a difference in the quality of the album. The Julia Michaels tune, “Help Me Out,” is a blown opportunity. The beat is so basic and boring that at times you may find yourself drifting off, causing the strong vocals and quality songwriting to get lost in the white noise. A$AP Rocky makes such a small impact on his featured song, “Whiskey,” that listeners may forget he’s on the album in the first place. For all the collective songwriting and beatmaking talent that Levine and the band pulled together for the record, it seems like an empty effort.
“Red Pill Blues” is an ambitious miss, and it’s bits and pieces are greater than the sum of the parts. The single “Don’t Wanna Know” still holds its own a year later; “Best 4 You” is a solid tune and “Closure” is an 11-minute journey that is regrettably relegated to the end of the track list. The majority of this album belongs next to the other forgettable tracks Maroon 5 has produced over the years, where it will hopefully stay.